Grandma Maggio’s Spaghetti Sauce


My very own Great Grandma Maggio, as the first of us ladies to be raised in the United States, had the proper Sicilian mother to teach her all the tricks. Like any good heirloom, this recipe has been passed down, mother to daughter, and preserved much of the same way (even I was told “a hand of garlic” when being taught this recipe).

This was the first recipe I remember being allowed to assist with in the kitchen. Propped up on a chair, an apron draped past my feet, I was tasked with stirring, slowly. My great grandmother apparently called this her “lazy recipe” and it certainly can be; the longer this sauce simmers the richer and deeper the flavors become, the garlic simply melts into the sea of tomatoes. Though, these rich flavors even come out once it is a day old and has been hanging out in the fridge.

I’m a less-patient version of generations past, and while I adore the whimsy of the memorized recipe without the preciseness of ounces and otherwise, I enjoy the comfort of consistent measurements. I’ve not bothered “perfecting” this recipe (that was done before I was even born), but rather translating “a hand of garlic” into the “one clove of garlic (apprx 12 pods)”, etc. as per my experience watching and making this divine sauce.

My grandma’s recipe has finally passed through what must a be grueling battle for submission at, and it has achieved a solid 4.5 out of 5.0 star rating, and has been saved (as of Jan 27th, 2012) 2066 times! Go grandma!

The one thing I’ve noticed from all the comments posted there, is that my grandma is still providing good food well after she has left this Earth, and I think that for an Italian grandma that would be a pretty rewarding thing, well, at least for my Italian grandma.

Some of the reviewers loved the taste, but mention not preferring a chunky spaghetti sauce recipe; this is solved by taking the sauce to the food processor and pureeing it down to the consistency you enjoy the best, which I do because I enjoy a smoother sauce than some of my family members.

I’m diverting from the version ever so slightly, mainly because they edit your recipes when they pass through submission. Just ensure your pot is going to be able hold all the liquid.

Grandma Maggio’s Spaghetti Sauce

Yields: 8-10 cups of sauce

Ingredients & Directions

  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped (usually medium sized to large, yellow or white)
  • 1 full pod of Garlic, skinned and minced (I have omitted the garlic entirely before, and it’s still very nice)

 (I pulse the onion and garlic pods in the food processor instead of spending time mincing and chopping, but I quarter the onion first)

On medium heat, heat oil and fry onions and garlic until translucent. About 6-7 minutes 

  • 1/2 cup fresh Basil, chopped (about 1-2 sprigs)
  • 2 cups fresh Mushrooms, chopped (one of those foam boxes of pre-sliced mushrooms is just right)

 (Oh yeah, these are pulsed in the food processor too)

Add basil and mushrooms, adding up to another tablespoon of oil if it looks dry. Cook until the mushrooms are cooked through and give up their juices. About 10 minutes.

  • 1, 28oz can of skinned whole Tomatoes (don’t drain the liquid!) (or 2, 14.5 oz cans of pre-diced tomatoes, don’t drain).

Pour in the can of whole tomatoes, and bring the sauce to a boil. Start crushing the tomatoes with your spoon. Break all the tomatoes into pieces, but if you plan on pureeing the sauce, leaving some a little large is OK. Allow the sauce to simmer, 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, don’t cover.

  • 1, 15 oz can of Tomato Sauce

Pour in the can of Tomato Sauce. If you still have some tomatoes to break apart keep breaking away. Mix and continue to let the sauce simmer, 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, don’t cover.

  • 1, 4 oz can of Tomato Paste
  • 4 oz of Merlot

Stir the tomato paste into the sauce, and fill the empty tomato paste can with Merlot wine, stirring to dissolve any remaining tomato paste in the can. Pour the Merlot wine into the sauce, and stir well to combine.

  • 2 teaspoons of Salt
  • 2 teaspoons of dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar

Mix in the salt, dried oregano, pepper, and sugar. Let the sauce simmer, 3 minutes. Don’t cover.

At this point you can either take it off the heat, and let it cool enough to puree it (if you want). If you want to let it cook longer, just make sure you cover it and turn down the heat, or it will start to loose too much moisture. This is a good time (post-puree, if you want to puree) to add the sauce to your cooked noodles or add cooked meatballs to the sauce, letting them bathe for a few minutes.This sauce lasts 1-2 weeks in the fridge and 1-2 months frozen in the freezer.

Hope you enjoy it!

My great grandma is the women in the back, and my grandmother is her mini-me in the center.

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